Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"Accidental Racist": Can You Separate "Southern Pride" from "Southern History"?

LL Cool J and Brad Paisley
Country singer Brad Paisley has released a new song featuring hip-hop artist LL Cool J entitled "Accidental Racist" which attempts to examine race relations in America; in particular it addresses the issue of Southern Pride and how that squares or doesn't square with the racial history of the South.  Rather than give you our take on it, we thought we'd let you listen for yourself and read the lyrics below:



LYRICS AFTER THE JUMP:




Paisley:
To the man that waited on me at the Starbucks down on Main, I hope you understand
When I put on that t-shirt, the only thing I meant to say is I’m a Skynyrd fan
The red flag on my chest somehow is like the elephant in the corner of the south
And I just walked him right in the room
Just a proud rebel son with an ‘ol can of worms
Lookin’ like I got a lot to learn but from my point of view

I’m just a white man comin’ to you from the southland
Tryin’ to understand what it’s like not to be
I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done
And it ain’t like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn’t start this nation
We’re still pickin’ up the pieces, walkin’ on eggshells, fightin’ over yesterday
And caught between southern pride and southern blame

They called it Reconstruction, fixed the buildings, dried some tears
We’re still siftin’ through the rubble after a hundred-fifty years
I try to put myself in your shoes and that’s a good place to begin
But it ain’t like I can walk a mile in someone else’s skin

‘Cause I’m a white man livin’ in the southland
Just like you I’m more than what you see
I’m proud of where I’m from but not everything we’ve done
And it ain’t like you and me can re-write history
Our generation didn’t start this nation
And we’re still paying for mistakes
That a bunch of folks made long before we came
And caught between southern pride and southern blame


LL Cool J:
Dear Mr. White Man, I wish you understood
What the world is really like when you’re livin’ in the hood
Just because my pants are saggin’ doesn’t mean I’m up to no good
You should try to get to know me, I really wish you would
Now my chains are gold but I’m still misunderstood
I wasn’t there when Sherman’s March turned the south into firewood
I want you to get paid but be a slave I never could
Feel like a new fangled Django, dodgin’ invisible white hoods
So when I see that white cowboy hat, I’m thinkin’ it’s not all good
I guess we’re both guilty of judgin’ the cover not the book
I’d love to buy you a beer, conversate and clear the air
But I see that red flag and I think you wish I wasn’t here

Paisley: I’m just a white man
LL Cool J:If you don’t judge my do-rag
Paisley:Comin’ to you from the southland
LL Cool J:I won’t judge your red flag
Paisley:Tryin’ to understand what it’s like not to be

Paisley:I’m proud of where I’m from
LL Cool J:If you don’t judge my gold chains
Paisley:But not everything we’ve done
LL Cool J:I’ll forget the iron chains
Paisley:it ain’t like you and me can re-write history
LL Cool J:Can’t re-write history baby

Paisley:Oh, Dixieland
LL Cool J:The relationship between the Mason-Dixon needs some fixin’
Paisley:I hope you understand what this is all about
LL Cool J:Quite frankly I’m a black Yankee but I’ve been thinkin’ about this lately
Paisley:I’m a son of the new south
LL Cool J:The past is the past, you feel me
Paisley:And I just want to make things right
LL Cool J:Let bygones be bygones
Paisley:Where all that’s left is southern pride
LL Cool J:RIP Robert E. Lee but I’ve gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me, know what I mean
Paisley:It’s real, it’s real
It’s truth


QUESTIONS:
  1. What is your take?
  2. Can this complicated topic be simplified in the manner in which Paisley and LL propose?
  3. Is it possible to have Southern Pride without acknowledging Southern History?
  4. Should Whites be able to wear the Confederate Flag without Blacks taking offense?

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